In September 2015, leaders from 193 countries got together at the United Nations General Assembly to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). India is also a signatory to this landmark agreement which set forth seventeen goals to be achieved by 2030. The achievement of these goals is not just dependent on governments alone, but also on the participation of civil society and private sector organizations in envisioning a better future and sustainable world by 2030.
With a population of over 1.3 billion (17 per cent of the world population), India’s performance will have a lot of bearing on the global SDGs targets. As per 2012 government data, 22 percent of India’s population live below poverty line and 70 percent of the population is below 30 years of age. Such young population is a great asset if they are gainfully employed, otherwise they will turn to be a great liability. Over the next decade and a half, 11–13 million people are expected to look for employment opportunities each year. Despite this huge human capital, employability continues to be a major concern in our country.
Therefore, long term solutions to addressing SDGs have to go beyond the current efforts of the government to only create jobs and shift more towards promoting social entrepreneurship and providing the youth with the opportunity for respectable livelihoods. There is a huge potential to promote social entrepreneurship in various fields such as education, health, environment and enterprise development. With right kind of support and enabling environment from the government, the youth can be engaged to bring about change through social innovation and transformation.
(Mr. John Borgoyary is the Regional Head of North East India, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP))